James M. Potter

writings on music, games, and culture

Tag: game music

In honour of the HD remake, a Final Fantasy X audio mash-up

It’s good news that Final Fantasy X is getting an HD makeover. It’s good news because another generation will get to experience one of the series’ most cohesive and beautifully-made entries, and it’s going to be all glammed-up for the HD TVs and whatnot. I sank many hours into it when it first came out, and since then I’ve regarded it as particularly unified in terms of art design – and that extends to sound as well. After the jump is something that illustrates that quite neatly (or if not, is just quite fun). Read the rest of this entry »

What does it look like inside a synthesiser? Like ‘Fract’, I hope

Shooters and adventure games are one thing, but sometimes all you want to do is wander around inside a synthesiser solving puzzles. At least, the creators of Fract OSC have taken this view, choosing to immerse the player of their new game in a first-person, psychedelic world filled with strange sound-machines. Sort of like Fantastic Voyage, but set in the brain of Jean Michel Jarre. Read the rest of this entry »

Jedi Outcast, or, Why Licensed Music Isn’t Always a Good Idea

Jedi Outcast (or to give it its full, ponderous title, Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast) is enjoying a little nostalgic attention this week, with the sad news that publisher LucasArts is closing its doors, causing magnanimous developers Raven to release the source code for the game. People have been rightly praising how much Raven got right with JK2 – the lightsaber combat was satisfying (not an easy thing to achieve), the level design was pretty good, and the storyline didn’t jump the shark. Being a product of that golden sequence of Quake III-engine games, it was endlessly mod-able to boot. I and many others were tinkering with it for a long time after it came out (and with the source code now floating around, it might be here a while longer). It wasn’t perfect though, and what this week’s news also reminded me of was one of the first things I did to the game when I got my hands on Pakscape – I changed the music.  Read the rest of this entry »

Try Again? – on being a prodigal gamer (oh, and Skyrim)

I played games as a kid. Nintendo’s consoles were my bread and butter, and you can probably estimate my age with considerable accuracy when I say that they were the Super Nintendo, the Nintendo 64, and latterly the GameCube. I varied my diet with the Playstation 2 and the PC, and refreshed my palate with Game Boys of various types. My tastes were not elite, nor were they especially refined, but I had a lot of fun in my virtual worlds of choice – Hyrule, Spira, Lylat, the various monochrome worlds inhabited by the Pokemon, and countless others. I exhausted them, turning over every stone, using them as playgrounds, sometimes regardless of the way the game was meant to be played. I spent far longer than was probably intended by the makers of Mario Kart 64 off-piste in ‘Royal Raceway’, exploring the grounds of the castle (though somehow never discovering this). As my ideas of success expanded to include exam grades in the real world instead of high scores in the virtual world, the former began to take precedence. I got my place; I went to university.

For a lot of people – dare I say the majority? – that’s where this virtual side of life ends. Technological playgrounds become limited to social networking websites, which are deemed for some reason an acceptable waste of time, quite unlike childish immersion in video games. Avatars become profile pictures. I can haz job, let alone cheezburger. ‘Real life’ takes over. Read the rest of this entry »

Players: compose yourselves

Game designers use music in games to try and control or shape your reaction to in-game events and circumstances so that it fits into their vision. But what happens when players aren’t content with this, and substitute their own music for whatever the composer/sound designer has provided? The game experience can change in innumerable subtle and unpredictable ways according to what sounds the player is hearing.

In a fascinating recent study (which you can read in full here), Alexander Wharton and Karen Collins show just how disparate the game-playing styles of players can be when they are given (or choose) different music. Read the rest of this entry »